New Zealand has halted all apple exports to China for the
rest of the season after rot was found in several batches at
the Chinese border.
The Ministry for Primary Industries said three consignments -
each containing about 21,000 kg of apples - had been
quarantined by Chinese officials.
The 'post-harvest' rot was caused by the fungus Neofabraea
alba and did not pose any food safety risk but officials had
identified the fungus as a pest for plant health reasons, MPI
Stephen Butcher, MPI's manager of import and export plants,
said a voluntary halt on all apple exports to China was now
in place for the rest of the season, which ends soon.
"Industry has informed us that in response to the rot being
detected - and considering this apple export season is almost
over - it has voluntarily suspended all apple exports to
China for the remainder of the season," he said.
Butcher said the New Zealand Government and apple industry
were working with Chinese quarantine officials to provide
technical and scientific information about the fungus.
MPI and Foreign Affairs and Trade officials had met their
counterparts in Beijing and were continuing discussions.
"These kinds of notifications happen from time to time in
international trade," he said.
The apples originated from a small number of production sites
and pack houses in Hawkes Bay.
Alan Pollard, chief executive of Pipfruit NZ, said Chinese
officials detected the rot about two weeks ago.
He said the season had "practically finished"so the impact of
halting exports would be minimal this year.
But it was "possible"this event could result in China being
unwilling to accept New Zealand apples next year.
"It's a concern in the sense that China is an important
trading partner for us," Pollard said.
He was confident New Zealand officials could reassure China
and gets things back on track though.
"We've got a really good dialogue going with them. It's a
normal part of trade so it's something we're used to and
we're extremely good at managing."
To date this year, New Zealand has exported 320,00 tonnes of
apples and 9500 tonnes of that went to China.
"It's a small percentage but it's still an important growth
market for us," Pollard said.
"What we're trying to work on is the management of fruit
before it leaves New Zealand to minimise the risk of this
happening. If you send fresh fruit around the world, this is
An example of why rot might set it was if the cooling system
in a shipping container failed, he said.
Chinese officials have asked that no apples from the Hawkes
Bay sites involved be exported to their country.
Pollard said apples from those sites had been redirected to
The apple quarantine comes at a time when New Zealand's dairy
industry is working hard to rebuild trust with Chinese
consumers after last month's Fonterra botulism scare.
Local companies are losing up to $2 million in sales in China
each week as a result of the dairy co-op's contamination
fiasco, according to the New Zealand Infant Formula Exporters
It also follows a botch-up in which millions of dollars worth
of New Zealand meat was left on Chinese docks for weeks
because MPI had not alerted Chinese officials to changes in
- Ben Chapman-Smith of nzherald.co.nz